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When It Was Just a Game: Remembering Super Bowl One

Excerpt: When It Was Just a Game: Remembering Super Bowl One, an Oral History by Harvey Frommer, publication Fall 2014

CHUCK LANE: The Coliseum is a large, cavernous, historical building. That day to start there was almost like a maritime level atmosphere that was almost kind of misty. And then the sun came out and it turned out to be a beautiful day. There was a considerable contingent from Green Bay. We traveled well, that’s kind of been a historical fact for the Packers.

FORREST GREGG: The Coliseum, never gave it a thought. We could have played the game on the moon. It would have not made any difference.

FRANK GIFFORD: I had played my college football in the Coliseum so I was not awed by it. It was and still is a pretty awesome place.

BILL MCNUTT, III: I had never been to the Coliseum before. It was a magical place to a twelve year old boy, second only to Disneyland. I remember the palm trees outside the stadium and the interesting entrances and exits basically just tunneled into the stadium from the outside and you walked through those very dark tunnels. And as you walked out, it just took your breath away because it was a beautiful vista with the end zone to your left and the columns.

BOYD DOWLER: We played in the Coliseum every year because we played the Rams out there every year, so it wasn’t like our first visit to the Coliseum. Oh yeah, it was a special game. And we’d never seen those guys, we’d never lined up against those guys. We had won the championship the year before, so we played against some of their young guys in the College All-Star Game.

GEORGE MITROVICH: Being there on a sunny Sunday in mid-winter in seats on the 40-yard line on the Coliseum’s north side, looking down on the Coliseum’s field of green and past its Peristyle end to the snowcapped San Gabriel Mountains rising to the east, witnessing a greatly anticipated football game between champions of two leagues, subsequently learning half of America’s homes were watching on television what I was privileged to see in person, Green Bay against Kansas City.

CHRIS BURFORD: Compared to most of the places we’d played in! Like Old War Memorial in Buffalo, the Coliseum was okay. I remember playing back in the day in Buffalo when we used to have to go to this little tiny locker room up these metal stairs that was right off the concourse, if you could call it that, where the hot dog stands were. And you’d have to dress in a little locker with a little tiny cage about a foot by 3 foot, put your stuff in it, walk down the stairs, go through the crowd by the hot dog stands, walk down through the Stadium on I guess the third base side of the old baseball park there, and then go out on the field

We could have played in a school yard. It did not matter to me. The Coliseum was a nice place to play because they had nice locker rooms. The Coliseum was quite a bit different then. The Coliseum wasn’t that old then. It wasn’t any bigger as far as seating capacity than Stanford’s stadium when I played there, about 90,000 also.

CURTIS MCCLINTON: For the American Football League, for our team and for all who supported us, that game was the first flight to the moon, momentous. That Coliseum stadium and any stadium for a player, it was how good is the grass and how good is the field. It was a bench that was not too close to the stands but close to the field so that we could observe it and not be close to fans and all the loud noise.

JERRY KRAMER: Stepping onto the field at the Coliseum, the place seemed half empty. The game was of less importance. I don`t think the public was ready for it. Our feeling was we`d beaten Dallas in the NFL championship on a last-second touchdown and that was our season. The Super Bowl was just another game.

BOYD DOWLER: There had been no preseason games between the leagues. This was the first exposure. We went down for pregame warm-ups, and were looking at them.

Max McGee said, “Good Lord. Big impressive looking bunch of guys!”

And I said, “Tell me about it!”

What he proceeded to tell me was about the events of the night before, and the fact that he hadn’t gotten too much sleep. He said he had missed curfew and had gotten in early in the morning. He said Bart saw him come in. Bart was down real early in the morning. Max was slippin’ in and getting up to his room. I never had a thought of what was to happen later.

BILL CURRY: We arrive at the Coliseum. We get to the locker room, again, business as usual. Somebody had to get tape, another guy had to go meet with the trainer “for special reasons,” meaning there was going to be an injection.

I had my ankle injected, because that’s what you did in the NFL. I had injured it in the game against Dallas two weeks prior, and it was when that Novocain wore off that I couldn’t function enough to stay in the game.

BILL MCNUTT, III: Lamar Jr., me, and one of the Stram boys — sometimes it would be Dale and sometimes it would be Stu, sort of interchangeable, we could go anywhere we wanted. And I think that was just because our dads had passes. Of course, we were very comfortable going into the locker room and coming out. You know, having been ball boys and worked at exhibition games, we certainly knew everybody in the Chiefs’ locker room.

I was completely in awe of Buck Buchanan’s size and strength. He was the biggest man I had ever seen. Buck was a gentle giant and very kind to kids. Having gone to Grambling, he just wasn’t used to the spotlight and all the attention. If Grambling played Southern, maybe you’d have 20,000 people there.

He was very nervous before the game.

***

Bobby Bell and Buck Buchannan were so into it that they cried in the tunnel getting ready to go onto the field. (America’s Game, 240)

In the tunnel before the game’s start, KC receiver Chris Burford told Mays to get a look at defensive tackle Buck Buchanan, all 6-7, 290 pounds of him. His face was streaked with tears.

***

CHRIS BURFORD: I told Jerry Mays “I’d hate to play across from him at the start of this game. He is charged.”

***

“Waiting in the tunnel to be introduced, guys were throwing up and wetting their pants,” said Kansas City linebacker, E.J. Holoub.

***

BART STARR: There were a lot of loud Packer fans there. I know they were very proud to be fans and be there for that team, and so we were extremely proud to see and hear that too. You’d be surprised at how many fans from an area back up in the upper mid-west in a small community were at that ballgame. And then I’m sure there were a lot of Packer fans from other parts of the country.

BILL CURRY: The starting center was the first guy introduced. We ran out one at a time. So my concern was: if I run out between the goalposts, and trip and fall, that’s the only thing I’m going to be remembered for the rest of my life!

And I remember my wife asking me later: “Why did you prance? Why did you run so strangely?”

DAVE ROBINSON: Vince and I happened to walk out on the field at the same time before the game, and Vince told me, “My, my, my look how far football has come.” The field was all decorated with green green grass . The big crown in the middle. The vivid colors in the end zones. He was moved. He said jokingly: “I remember when football was played in cow pastures!”

BART STARR: There was very deep, embedded excitement coming out with my teammates onto the field. We were very, very anxious to begin. Well, no it wasn’t just another game in one sense. In another, in the more important sense, it was because there had never ever been anything like that before. And we were honored to be a part of that initial one.

Dr. Harvey Frommer is now in his 39th consecutive year of writing sports books. He is the author of 42 sports books, including the classics: “New York City Baseball,” and “Shoeless Joe and Ragtime Baseball.” Frommer sports books are available direct from the author — discounted and autographed.

The prolific Frommer has a PhD in media and communications from New York University and his thesis focused on culture and sports.

FROMMER SPORTSNET (syndicated) reaches a readership in excess of 1,000,000 and appears on Internet search engines for extended periods of time.

The prolific Frommer’s work has appeared in such outlets as The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Washington Post, New York Daily News, and USA Today. FROMMERSPORTSNET reaches an audience in the millions. Autographed copies of Frommer books are available directly from the author. This article is Copyright 1995-2014 by Harvey Frommer. All rights reserved worldwide.

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